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Celek Reliable At Unsteady TE Position

When Cornelius Ingram was diagnosed with a torn ACL earlier this week and Matt Schobel's continued to miss practice because of a calf injury, the Eagles were left with only two tight ends on the roster - one of whom hadn't played the position since high school.

And so Brent Celek, who came into training camp entrenched as the starter for the first time in his NFL career, was left taking a lion's share of reps on the field. Although Celek has made the most of those reps by impressing everyone with his skills in the passing game and reliability in the blocking game, the work left a toll on his body.

"I definitely hit the wall today so I was struggling a little bit out there," Celek said of the morning practice.

"But tomorrow I'll be alright, and I'm definitely looking forward to playing somebody else."

While the tight end position is currently somewhat in flux because of depth issues - the team recently acquired rookie Rob Myers - there is no shortage of confidence in the third-year man from Cincinnati who busted out in a big way in the NFC Championship game. On the last game of the season in Arizona, Celek set a team playoff record for catches in game with 10, two of which were touchdowns.

"I'm starting to feel a little bit more like a veteran, this being my third year," Celek said. "I'm doing the same things I've done the last two years. I'm just trying to be consistent and be in the same place each play so that Donovan (McNabb) knows where I'm going to be and he can depend on me."

And McNabb has that trust in Celek.

"I think Brent has definitely elevated his game," McNabb said. "He took it upon himself to challenge himself throughout the off-season, coming in not only in great shape but being able to establish himself as the starting tight end, a guy that can get downfield, a guy that create separation from a linebacker or safety and he's been able to do that here in his camp.

"The guys have so much confidence in Brent that he'll be able to make that play for us, even in the NFC championship last year he made a lot of big plays for us and I think he can continue to feed off that this year and in year's to come."

That doesn't change the fact that the team is searching for a reliable backup.

"In the west coast offense, it's important to have two tight ends that not only can catch the ball but can do some blocking as well," McNabb said. "We've always been able to put two tight ends on the field together. One may split out or one may be more of a pass catcher than the other, so it's important that we have that."

But Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is confident in the position, even if he recognizes the need for some depth.

"The thing that makes you feel pretty comfortable is Brent Celek at that tight end spot," Mornhinweg said. "He's very good on both run and pass. He's a dependable player, every play."

Dependability is exactly what Celek strives for.

"A quarterback doesn't ever want to throw an interception," said Celek. "So if you're in the right place at the right time and he knows you're consistently there, he can depend on you.

"And that's what I want to be for Donovan. I want to be in the right place at the right time, all the time."

Celek also feels that he's improved his blocking skills this off-season.

"I think in pass blocking and in run blocking," he said, "I'm starting to understand my footwork and where I'm supposed to be.

"I'm going to play within the offense and then whatever play Marty (Morhinweg) calls, I'm going to run it and run it within the best of my ability. If the ball comes my way, the ball comes my way, and if not, I'll try to help the team out anyway I can."

Even though Celek did everything he possibly could in trying to get the Eagles past the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game last January, his only goal is to go one step further.

"That's what I care about," he said. "I don't care about any individual stats; I just want to win a Super Bowl.

"And if I can help the team do that, then that's a successful season."

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:27 p.m., August 10

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